Rape and sexual assault are never victims’ fault. When it’s time to hold an assailant accountable in civil court, victims can file personal injury cases based on claims of physical harm and the emotional distress caused by the attack. While sexual assault lawsuits are often based on “he-said-she-said” accounts of what occurred, it’s crucial to remember that:
- Any physical and/or witness evidence gathered as part of a criminal investigation may be used as evidence in a civil case.
- The burden of proof in civil court can be lower than it is in criminal court. In fact, while the burden in criminal cases is proof “beyond a reasonable doubt,” in civil cases, it’s usually only necessary to prove the allegations “by a preponderance of the evidence.”
Child Sexual Abuse
As a form of sexual assault, child sex abuse can involve any form of sexual contact between an assailant and a minor. Often, instances of child sexual abuse involve assailants who hold a position of trust in the community or a child’s life. In many cases, abusers share close relationships with children. That can include (and is not limited to) those in the roles of teachers, priests, coaches, youth leaders, daycare operators, doctors, and many others.
The perpetrators of child sexual abuse can face civil justice, even if (or regardless of whether) they are convicted of criminal charges related to their egregious acts. These parties are not the only ones who may be liable for the sexual abuse of children, however. Those who enable the abuse, either indirectly by ignoring it or directly by facilitating it, can also be named as defendants in sexual abuse lawsuits.
Although there are strict time limits for filing child sexual abuse lawsuits in Colorado, the law recognizes that it can take time for survivors to process what happened and come forward—and Colorado laws regarding the statutes of limitations (SOLs) for child sex abuse cases have recently changed, eliminating the SOLs for many cases.
For those who do take action by filing a child sex abuse lawsuit against their abuser(s), it may be possible to collect damages for medical bills, lost earnings, pain, suffering, therapy, and more. That can be pivotal to helping survivors heal.
At Bell & Pollock, P.C., we are highly skilled at identifying all defendants in sexual abuse cases and going up against them when it’s time for justice. Some of the various types of defendants we can fight in these cases include:
- Priests & churches
- Coaches & sports organizations
- Youth activity leaders & organizations
- Teachers, schools & school districts
Elder Sexual Abuse
Like children, the elderly can be especially vulnerable when it comes to sexual abuse. In fact, elder sexual abuse is more likely to occur when aging leads to physical and/or cognitive impairments, like mobility limitations and dementia.
Tragically, it’s also not uncommon for elder sexual abuse to occur at the hands of those who are responsible for taking care of older individuals, like the staff at nursing homes. In these cases, it often takes the help of a loved one to recognize elder abuse and reach out for justice.
Damages for Sexual Assault Lawsuits
Financial recoveries for sexual assault lawsuits can include damages for (but not limited to):
- Medical bills: Treatment for physical and psychological trauma can be a big part of the compensation awarded to the victims of sex abuse. These damages may cover both past and future medical bills for things like therapy, medications, treatments for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and more.
- Lost earnings: Often, survivors of sexual assault have difficulty maintaining jobs. Awards for lost earnings can provide essential financial support for those whose trauma has prevented (or continues to prevent) them from being able to earn a living.
- Pain and suffering: Damages for emotional distress, though often challenging to quantify, are usually key elements of sexual assault settlements and awards.
- Punitive damages: These may be awarded in some cases as a way to specifically punish the defendant, instead of compensating the survivor/plaintiff for losses.
How Long Do I Have to File a Sexual Abuse Lawsuit in Colorado?
The statute of limitations for Colorado sexual abuse lawsuits will depend on when the abuse occurred. The reason for this is that Colorado laws regarding these statutes of limitations have recently changed with Senate Bill (SB) 73. Signed into law in 2021, SB 73 effectively eliminates the 6-year statute of limitations previously associated with Colorado sexual abuse lawsuits.
Specifically, if the statute of limitations for a child sexual assault case has not already expired as of Jan. 1, 2022, SB 73 would give those survivors unlimited time to sue their abusers in civil court. This also applies to instances of sexual abuse that occur after Jan. 1, 2022.
Prior to this new law, the 6-year time limit for these cases would start counting down as of the victim’s 18th birthday, with some exceptions for disabled survivors and situations involving specific relationships between the abuser and the victim.
The team at Bell & Pollock, P.C. can help you determine if your claim is still valid, how the changes to Colorado law may impact your case, and what you need to do next to preserve your potential rights to recovery.
How Long Will a Sexual Abuse Lawsuit Take to Resolve?
Colorado sexual abuse lawsuits can take months to years to resolve, depending on who the defendants are, how many plaintiffs are involved, and the complexity of the case in general. While it can be difficult to put a specific timeline on these cases without knowing details, here are some important facts to understand about how they work and how that can impact the duration of sexual abuse lawsuits:
- Out-of-court negotiations and settlements can result in faster resolutions, when compared to litigating cases before juries and waiting for the outcome of a trial (and potentially appeals to follow).
- When there are more plaintiffs involved—or when big organizations (like the Boy Scouts or the Catholic Church) are also named as defendants—these cases can be more complicated and take longer to resolve.
- If the defendants have declared bankruptcy (like the Boy Scouts of America or specific Catholic dioceses), there may be different processes for filing claims—and there may be more than one option for seeking recovery.
No matter how long it takes to resolve a sexual abuse lawsuit in Colorado, having the representation of an experienced lawyer can be the key to achieving optimal outcomes in these cases.
How Do I File a Sexual Abuse Lawsuit in Colorado?
Contact Bell & Pollock, P.C. for experienced help with all aspects of your case. From filing court paperwork to gathering evidence, representing you in hearings, and holding the enablers liable, our team is skilled at positioning sexual abuse lawsuits for successful resolutions.
As champions of the people, we are proud and honored to help those who have been victimized by others’ reckless and horrifically damaging actions. We are also committed to providing superior advocacy, no matter how complex a case may be or how prominent the defendants are. Our Denver sexual abuse lawyers won’t back down, and we will fight tirelessly to help survivors get the justice they need and the financial recoveries they deserve.
Call 720-580-4275 or contact us online for a free, confidential, no-obligation consultation.
We are ready to answer your questions, explain your options, and help you take the next steps.